The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone #bookreview #horror #scifi

After two years of living on cheap beer and little else in a bitterly cold tiny cabin outside an abandoned, crumbling mansion, young programmers Shawn Eagle and Billy Stafford have created something that could make them rich: a revolutionary computer they name Eagle Logic.

But the hard work and escalating tension have not been kind to their once solid friendship—Shawn’s girlfriend Emily has left him for Billy, and a third partner has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. While Billy walks away with Emily, Shawn takes Eagle Logic, which he uses to build a multi-billion-dollar company that eventually outshines Apple, Google, and Microsoft combined.

Years later, Billy is a failure, beset by poverty and addiction, and Shawn is the most famous man in the world. Unable to let the past be forgotten, Shawn decides to resurrect his and Billy’s biggest failure: a next-generation computer program named Nellie that can control a house’s every function. He decides to set it up in the abandoned mansion they worked near all those years ago. But something about Nellie isn’t right—and the reconstruction of the mansion is plagued by accidental deaths. Shawn is forced to bring Billy back, despite their longstanding mutual hatred, to discover and destroy the evil that lurks in the source code.

I read The Hatching series by this author, which I enjoyed, and after seeing the cover of this one – I needed it immediately.  And AI books fascinate me.

After reading this, you may think twice about having a smart home.  The thought of a computer program becoming sentient and deciding independently to control the lives of its creators is freaky scary.  It made me think about how my Alexa speaks at random times – even when no one is in the room with her.  Nellie is dark and dangerous – and she really shines the last 20% of the book during some intense situations – but I wish she would have gotten more page time.  It’s mentioned in the blurb that Shawn, Billy, and Emily had a love triangle back in college, but the drama surrounding that and flashbacks from their respective pasts make up a larger portion of this story.

Not that the plot of The Mansion is anything like The Shining but, being a King fan, I noticed some parallels – a secluded mansion/resort in the middle of winter, an alcoholic sleeping very little and consumed with his work, a character named Wendy, and young creepy sisters – but these are twins with an unusual connection, not ghosts.

I wouldn’t classify this book as horror scary, but more disturbing and unnerving.  It’s a long read at over 400 pages, and contains a good bit of repetition which can be difficult to get past, but I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to both sci-fi and horror fans.  With this being an ARC, the word count may change before publication.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

 

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada #bookreview #YA #scifi

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind. 

The first book in this series, This Mortal Coil, was one of my most captivating reads last year.  Any books involving genetic engineering?  Yes, please.  I was so excited to receive an ARC of This Cruel Design, but also cautiously optimistic that it would live up to my heightened expectations.  No worries – it more than delivered, and is just as addictive as the first book.

I had no trouble falling right back into Cat’s world, but still appreciated the recap in the first couple of chapters.  Strong characterization is one of the strong points of this series, and I thought I knew these characters’ secrets – wrong.  So very wrong.  More gasp-worthy secrets, hidden agendas, surprising relationship reveals – strap yourselves in and be prepared.  The coding technology continues to thrill my inner science geek, and comes across as absolutely realistic the way it’s written.

With a unique plot line, strong, likable characters pushed to their limits, a fast pace, and futuristic technology, this series will appeal to YA sci-fi fans, and is easily a crossover.  My wait for the next book will not be patient or pleasant.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

Calendar Girls: Not Quite The End (Favorite Middle Book in a Series)

This is a meme I saw at Adrienne’s blog and thought it looked like fun.  She invited me to join in, and even though the Neil Sedaka song was embedded in my brain and played all day, I decided to participate.  I’m pretty late getting in on this, but better late than never, right?

Calendar Girl is a monthly meme now hosted by Katie@nevernotreading and Adrienne @darquedreamer

The Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile. It was inspired by the 1961 classic song by Neil Sedaka and created to ignite fun bookish discussions among readers and bloggers.

Each month we get a new theme and choose our favorite book for the theme. The participants get to vote for their favorite.

The other fun piece to The Calendar Girls group is the Twitter chat. On the 3rd Sunday of each month, at 8 p.m. EST, Katie and Adrienne will host a chat with hashtag #CGBChat, where everyone can participate and gif away. They will get the ball rolling by asking a question or two about the theme or the picks of the month to get everyone chatting. The hashtag will be used in all tweets, so you can see all the fun!

The first book in this series, This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada, was one of my top reads last year, and I was worried the second book wouldn’t maintain the pace and intensity of the first.  Most people are familiar with ‘Middle Book Syndrome’, and I’d been burned before when going in with high expectations.

I worried for nothing.  This Cruel Design more than delivered, and is just as addictive.  More secrets, hidden agendas, and relationship reveals – plenty of shocks and surprises along the way.  And a cliffhanger that left my mouth gaping.  The last book in the series has a lot to live up to.

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.

#BadMoonRising: Ostrich Mentality by T.A. Henry #thriller #alternativehistory #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s author shares her alternative history thriller with a biological weapon angle – a topic that’s sure to send some chills down your spine.  I love her ‘take charge’ attitude when faced with a creepy situation at home – I’d probably do the same thing in her situation.  Welcome T.A. Henry!

You’re in a horror movie.  Are you the final person, the first to die, the comic relief, the skeptic, the smart one, or the killer?

This actually just came up at a party and without a doubt I am Samuel L. Jackson from Deep Blue Sea. I have a plan. I’ve been through shit before. And if you all would just listen to me before the shark eats me, we’ll be fine. But no. I’m the one who gets eaten halfway through explaining our survival plan.

Creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

We had just moved to the PNW. My hubs is back in Cali on personal business. I am home with the kiddo, who is upstairs in bed sleeping. I am watching a movie with headphones on so I don’t wake up the kiddo. I get up for a beverage refill and the door to the laundry room is open. Could have sworn I closed that but maybe not. I close it. Go back to the movie. Get up to recycle said beverage and the laundry room door is open. I grabbed a butcher knife from the counter and start prowling the house, turning on every light, checking in every closet, under every bed. I even check the kiddos room with a flashlight, just in case. Then I come back downstairs, shut the laundry room door, again and sit down in a chair in front of it to wait. LOL

In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?
A boat to escape the hoards? LOL

How do you develop your plots and characters?

I don’t. They spring my head fully formed like Athena. Ok, fine, I lie. But if you think about it, that’s what being an author is, lying convincingly in writing. Often an idea comes to me through the ethos. I know I should plot it out and work out whether it has legs, but really, I don’t. I just start writing on it. And if more comes to me, it becomes something, and if not, it dies a slow death. One of these days I should learn to properly vet my ideas. I’ve read several books on it.

What is the hardest part of writing?

Getting people to read it. LOL.

What’s your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Any spare minute I can. I also teach part time at a small co-op school and home school my child.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I am writing the sequel to my police procedural, The Body in the Pool, as well as a story that came along and insisted it needed my time.

It’s November 1990, the Cold War is all but over. The weapons coming out of the disintegrating USSR have never been hotter. Twenty tons of weaponized Smallpox have gone missing. Enter Galatea, a Mossad assassin with single-minded devotion to her country – until this assignment makes her question which side of the line she wants to live on. Throw in an eclectic group of operatives with shifting loyalties and an analyst who thinks he runs the world – what’s to worry?
It’s just the population of the world hanging in the balance.
Where history meets speculative fiction.

Purchase Link:  Amazon

Author Bio

Transplanted from the monochromatic weather of the Silicon Valley with her hubby and kiddo, T.A. Henry now thrives in the rain and thunder of the Pacific Northwest. While a degree in History did not provide a lucrative career, it did teach this author how to research with the best of them. She reads non-fiction constantly and likes to use everything she absorbs as fodder for another novel.

Social Media

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https://tahenryauthoress.wordpress.com/

The Cube (Guardian of the Present #1) by Melissa Faye #bookreview #YA #scifi #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

In the future, time travelers are a reality. In the present, time travelers are a real pain. 

June Moore is a normal teenager by day and a vigilante hero by night. 

She guards our present day from time travelers from the future. Law enforcement can’t keep up with their futuristic abilities. 

But June has an edge. 

Her smarts and strength help her fight off these visitors before they can take advantage of our world. She sends those time travelers back where they belong…whether they like it or not. 

Now it’s the night before her freshman year of college, and June finds herself face-to-face with a traveler. His motives are unclear, and he’s holding a strange cube. 

She has to know what’s inside. 

An extra second of hesitation allows the man to escape. June’s left alone. With the box. And with regrets…She should have sent the guy straight home. 

If June doesn’t capture the time traveler soon he could really mess up the future for everyone. Who knows what kind of trouble he may cause? And if the cube opens…it might cause even more trouble. Something that would hit closer to home. 

To save the future of those close to her, June must hunt the escaped traveler down.

…Before she runs out of time. 

The Cube is Book 1 of Guardian of the Present, an eight book series of novellas that will appeal to fans of tough female leads, Buffy, Veronica Mars, and Looper. 

I’m pretty sure it was the original Planet of the Apes movies that made me a fan of time travel, so every time I see a book on the topic, it’s like a laser beam that draws me in.

I like the idea of June’s story being told in eight novellas – it reminds me of Stephen King’s The Green Mile.  All were quick reads, and each left the reader with a bit of a cliffhanger – the first book in the Guardians of the Present series is no different.  The traveler case June is dealing with wraps up in this novella, but shocking news regarding something from her past turns up at the end.

June is a very likable protagonist, and despite her unusual ‘job’, she’s trying to have a normal college experience – roommates, fraternity parties, and possibly a new love interest.  The clever names she’s given her self-invented weapons made me chuckle, and her understanding of and knack for technology has saved her numerous times in her line of work.  Currently, June’s three roommates aren’t really asking any questions about her mysterious behavior and oddly timed comings and goings, but there’s potential for some conflict in the future, and maybe the possibility of even taking some of them into her confidence.

Something I missed was more information on world-building.  Although it may be included later in the series, I was left wondering how June became a guard at such a young age, and how she met Ridge.  Is there someone over the program?  Are there guards throughout the country?  The world?  June encounters a traveler at Central Park Zoo, obviously a high traffic area, and later even sneaks in after hours, but no mention is made about park goers sighting them, security guards, or cameras.  Is there some gadget that prevents her from being seen?

This well-paced novella can easily be read in one sitting, and Buffy, Looper, and Veronica Mars are excellent comp titles.  I’d like to continue with the series, but hope the author fills in some blanks and gives readers a better grasp of June’s world and backstory.

I received a copy of this novella from the author through Rosie’s Book Review Team.

 

 

 

The Yak Guy Project by C.S. Boyack #bookreview #scifi #dystopian

Imagine waking up in the desert with no idea what happened to you. You have clear memories of situations and places, but a complete loss in personal matters… like your own name. This situation is bad, and you have no idea how to get home.

When you’re rescued by a talking yak, the situation gets exponentially worse. You’ve obviously lost your mind. The immediate needs of a ride off the salt pan and searing heat, along with a drink of water, outweigh the concerns about your mental state.

This is exactly what happened to the Yak Guy. In fact he’s been placed in an alternate world and given a chance to start over in life.

Can this selfish, almost parasitic, young man learn to start over in a world where charity is hard to find? Life is brutal and short here, but he’s going to have to adapt or perish.

The Yak Guy Project is loosely based around The Fool’s Journey from the Tarot. Those with experience in Tarot will spot people and situations from the Major Arcana.

I’ve read several books by this author, and his extensive imagination astounds me.  A yak teaching a man basic survival skills and how to become a better person?  Definitely a unique concept.

Generally, coming of age stories apply to teens, but it’s an apt description of the Yak Guy (Ted) in this book.  He comes from a life where he takes advantage of others, doing almost nothing to support himself, earn his way, or take on responsibility.  The yak teaches Ted some valuable, but hard-learned life lessons in a new world that lacks the luxuries he’s accustomed to.  Not how to live with a lower thread count – more like how to survive life or death situations, and find food, water, and shelter.

As with all this author’s books, there are some quirky and memorable characters along the way, as well as a thrilling adventure.  I especially enjoyed the Yak with his practical, no-nonsense approach to life, and sarcastic wit.

I highly recommend this to fans of offbeat, innovative sci-fi/dystopia with characters that will stick with you long after reading.